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Book Review: Early Shotgun Concentrators and Spreaders by Gary B. Muckel

posted Aug 5, 2011, 10:28 AM by Peter Lucas
If you spent much time on this website, you have observed that there are a number of articles related to muzzle loading shot cartridges.   Over the last couple of years, I have spent a substantial amount of time scouring the internet for old books, magazine articles and new papers in search of information about the muzzle loading shot cartridges.  During that time, I have happened upon references to a wide number of muzzle loading shot cartridges.  However, there was not one single, definitive source of information regarding the various shot cartridges.   The book “Early Shotgun Concentrators and Spreaders, the first one hundred years of invention to control the flight of shot" by Gary B. Muckel provides that definitive source.

As the title implies, Gary B. Muckel’s book is about shot concentrators and spreaders.  The book covers a variety of devices which were in use from the period from 1828 through approximately 1920.  During this time period, shotguns had transitioned from muzzle loading to breach loading fire arms.  As a result, many of the devices covered in Muckel’s Book were intended breach loading guns.  However, there are plenty of devices described in the book which were designed for muzzle loading guns. In addition, a number of shot concentrators spanned the transition and were used for both muzzle loading and breach loading shotguns.    

In all, over seventy different shot cartridges, including both concentrators and spreaders, are covered.   Muckel’s  Book contains multiple color pictures of the various devices from  his personal collection together with information regarding each of the items from a wide variety of sources, including: patent applications, period literature, advertising materials and other historic sources.    The book makes both interesting reading and a wealth of detailed information regarding the historic use of shot cartridges during the muzzle loading era.

Early Shotgun Concentrators and Spreaders is written from the point of view of a collector, not a shooter. 

Consequently, the Book does not address many of details regarding the devices which a shooter attempting to recreate shot cartridges would find helpful.   For example, the book does not attempt to cover any details regarding the dimensions of the devices, construction materials or methods or the effectiveness of the devices.  However, much of this information be derived from the patent applications reproduced in the book and the numerous color pictures of the original shot cartridges.

Early Shotgun Concentrators and Spreaders, the first one hundred years of invention to control the flight of shot  is an excellent reference for anyone interested in the history of muzzle loading shot cartridges.